I’m watching with my beloved season 2 of “24”, the Kiefer Sutherland riff that ran for what, 5 seasons? I must say I’m not as crazy about it as she is, but it is compelling, tense theatre. Also, Sutherland is very believable as agent Jack Bauer, and the melodrama–for that’s what it is–is some of the best of all time.
In the 19th Century, melodrama was the most popular form of theatre. Several plays ran for years: James O’Neill, father of the famous playwright Eugene O’Neill, toured the US for years playing The Count of Monte Cristo. Davy Crockett, which Disney made famous in the 1950s, was taken from a wildly popular melodrama of the 1800s. Melodrama features wild, frenetic action; dialog only as necessary to move the plot; wooden, obvious characters and a few other things. Television programs today rely–as should be obvious–on melodrama. Yes, there is some comedy, but the comedy of the long running program The Odd Couple, e. g., is a pale ghost of Neil Simon’s play of the same name. My wife and I saw it at the old Drury Lane Theatre in Evergreen Park, IL. A peculiar thing happened there. From time to time Jacqi and I would be convulsed with laughter, and the people in front of us would turn quickly and look at us, obviously baffled, apparently never having seen a comedy.
Nor is this the only time that’s happened to us. We were watching a splendid production at the Lincolnshire Drury Lane of another comedy–again turning and bewilderment from the people in front of us. We were watching a Hugh Grant movie, laughing our ears loose along with several–perhaps 15 others. A man and woman stopped in front of our group and excoriated us for laughing and enjoying the movie.
I’ll continue these thoughts tomorrow.